Tuesday, March 19, 2013

West Virginia

Dear Riley and Ella,

Last week was Spring Break and we went to see Daddy. He's been working in West Virginia since the beginning of the year and hasn't been home since. We really missed him and had to go see him on our week off.

But West Virginia is half-way across the country from East Texas, or 1,200 miles. We could have flown, but I would be by myself with two kids, plus I'm pregnant. I just didn't think I could do it alone. So we chose to drive.

Our first stop was Mamaw's house in Louisiana. We spent the night there and resumed our trip the next morning. My goal was to get to Kentucky. We stopped for lunch in Clarksdale, Mississippi. I try to find places to eat that are different from what we have here. This Mexican food restaurant we stopped at was quite different, and not that good. So from there we made it to Tunica, Mississippi. Out of nowhere, Ella you started screaming. This was the kind of scream that I knew something was really wrong. I asked Riley, "Riley, what's wrong with Ella?" From the backseat Riley yells, "Call the ambulance!" I knew I needed to see what was going on anyway, but what Riley said really made me worried.

I navigated to the side of the road, jumped out, and discovered that you had vomited your entire lunch all over yourself. What a mess I had on my hands. I got you out and took your clothes off. You were still crying and whimpering, so I just held you and rocked a little. Pulled over on the side of the road is not the place anyone wants to be when something happens to a child. But there I was. A man pulled up asking if I had car trouble. And then a couple pulled up and the lady would not take no for an answer. It was hard accepting help from a complete stranger, but I soon realized I needed someone. You were clean and changed but then I looked at the mess in your car seat. She held you while I cleaned that mess up. Her name was Casey. I'm so thankful she stopped and helped me. It was just what I needed. Soon we were back on the road.

From there we stopped just once for a bathroom break and drove to Bowling Green, Kentucky. We found a great hotel and camped out there for the night. The next morning we were on the road to Grafton, West Virginia.

Stopping to use the bathroom was hard on me with both of you. Riley, you can handle yourself just fine and I can change Ella with no problems. But that leaves me trying to hold Ella while I use the bathroom. It's hard work! We stopped at a gas station in Hurricane, West Virginia, and this station actually had a little seat in the stall for a baby to sit on while the mother used the bathroom. It was the best thing! More gas stations need this. There were several places we stopped that didn't have a changing table in the bathroom. That was inconvenient.

We made it to Dad's at around 6:00 p.m., even losing an hour because of the Eastern Time Zone.

It was so nice to be together as a family again! The next day, Monday, Dad was rained out at work so we were able to spend the entire day together. 

We made a trip to the local mall and had a nice dinner at Outback Steakhouse. 

The next day Daddy had to work and I decided us girls needed a break. We lounged around in Dad's hotel room the whole day. 

On our last full day in Grafton we tried to get a little sight-seeing in. We had lunch at Tygart Lake State Park. The restaurant overlooked the lake and it was really nice. We ordered chips and queso to start with, and it was nothing like what we were used to. 

I greatly underestimated the terrain in West Virginia. The hills were everywhere and towns were built right into the side of the hills. The roads were extremely curvy and hilly with a  55 MPH speed limit. I had a hard time maintaining the posted speed limit. And the locals didn't seem to care that I was white-knuckling the roads. They would get right up on my bumper and stay there. It was all I could do to pull over and let them pass.

When we left on Friday morning the goodbye was really hard. We didn't want to leave Henry and he didn't want us to leave.

We made for Bowling Green again and were happy to be in a familiar place. Riley, you had a little episode here. I know you felt like you would never see home again. We had been gone a week at this point. You wanted Mrs. Sanders (your pre-k teacher) and Grandad. I was ready to be home, too.

After we left Bowling Green on Saturday morning, I thought I would get a little historical sight-seeing in. There were several times on this trip that I wanted to stop and visit a site, but with both of you, it was impossible. So, we stopped in Franklin, Tennessee, to visit the battlegrounds of the deadliest 5 hours of the Civil War. There is a gift shop, museum, plantation home to tour and a cemetery to check out. Well, we made it through the gift shop before we had to leave. Turns out, you girls didn't really care for my idea of fun.

Forty-five minutes south of Franklin is Athens, Alabama, were my great-great-great grandfather is buried. We were able to stop there and take a picture. Ella, you missed out because you were sleeping in the car.

Riley, I told you who Colonel Gaines C. Smith was and you liked my explanation of the Civil War. You said, "My great-great-great-great grandfather was defeated?" when I told you his side lost the Civil War. You said defeated. You're so smart.

And we barely made it to Pearl, Mississippi that night. I was so tired and I know you girls had to be. Even though we were just five hours from home, I was too tired to drive any farther. We stayed in yet another hotel room. The next morning we left bright and early. PawPaw met us at home at 2:00. You were so happy to see him, Spots, and your room. You disappeared into your room and stayed.

We had a great Spring Break. I never thought I could have driven that far with just you girls. And the truth is, with out you, Riley, I couldn't have. You completely took care of Ella in the backseat. From holding her bottle to giving her toys to finding a missing pacifier, you were my rock.

Love you girls. Thanks for making the trip with me and being so sweet.

Love, Mama

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